Lowndes returns to top step of podium in Tassie
Craig Lowndes has broken a 45-race winless run dating back to July 2016 as he won Race 8 of the Supercars Championship at Symmons Plains.
The Triple Eight driver effectively led all the way on the final day of the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint, Scott McLaughlin finished runner-up, and fellow podium finisher Jamie Whincup took over the championship lead as Shane van Gisbergen suffered with a throttle problem.
Lowndes, who had earlier in the day broken an even longer pole drought, made another good start to lead the field away in the 84-lap encounter.
Despite initial pressure from van Gisbergen, Lowndes led until his first compulsory pit stop on Lap 22.
He emerged behind McLaughlin, who was fourth early on before taking slightly less fuel than Car #888 when he pitted on Lap 15.
Lowndes also appeared to lose some time when he was held up by Chaz Mostert, who by then had already pitted, on his in lap.
On Lap 29, however, Lowndes executed a tidy move on the #17 Shell V-Power Falcon at the hairpin, becoming the official race leader moments later when Scott Pye completed the first CPS cycle.
McLaughlin, who had drifted to slightly over a second behind the Autobarn Commodore, took his second CPS on Lap 47.
Lowndes and team-mate Whincup, who gave up track position with a longer and later first pit stop, filed into the pits together on Lap 50, with the former just beating Car #1 back into the fast lane.
They re-entered the circuit just ahead of McLaughlin, but the Kiwi rounded Whincup up a corner later at Turn 3.
Initially close behind, McLaughlin began to lose ground to Lowndes, particularly when the leaders hit thick traffic around 30 laps from home.
Despite spots of rain in the final 20 laps, the three-time Supercars champion gradually pulled away to a 2.4s win.
The triumph was Lowndes’ first since the Sunday race at Queensland Raceway in 2016.
“(I’m) More relieved,” said Lowndes.
“We’ve been talking about how hard we’ve been working as a team. We’ve been pushing hard and I’ve had no secrets that last year was hard.
“We want to be more consistent, we want to be on podiums.
“I said that at the start that this car suits me and hopefully we’ve proved that this weekend.”
McLaughlin closed to 11 points off the championship lead, which is now held by Whincup, who ran third for the rest of his final stint.
Van Gisbergen slumped from first to fifth in the title race as he finished a lap down in 25th, last of the finishers, having battled throttle over-run.
The #97 Red Bull Commodore was well in contention for a podium before he began to lose positions at an alarming rate in his second stint, regularly missing the turn-in at the hairpin in particular.
The cause was a component failure within the pedal box which caused the throttle to engage under brakes.
James Courtney was a beneficiary of van Gisbergen’s troubles in finishing fourth, running around the middle of the top 10 all race in the #25 Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore.
Rookie Jack Le Brocq (Tekno Autosports) had a similar afternoon on his way to fifth position, ahead of the second WAU entry of Pye, Garth Tander (Garry Rogers Motorsport), David Reynolds (Erebus Motorsport), and Nick Percat (Brad Jones Racing).
Mostert completed the top 10, his first in any session on a poor weekend for Tickford Racing as a whole.
Team-mates Mark Winterbottom and Cameron Waters finished 12th and 13th respectively.
Richie Stanaway, however, was a DNF having picked up rear suspension damage on Lap 1 when he appeared to clash with Anton De Pasquale as the field checked up at the hairpin.
Fabian Coulthard was only 17th in the second of the DJR Team Penske entries but arguably had a lucky escape when the left-rear wheel nut parted company with his car on Lap 44.
He managed to guide with #12 Falcon back to the pits with all four wheels still attached and finished a lap down.
Rick Kelly led the Nissans in 15th.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship now moves on to the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 in a fortnight’s time (April 20-22).
Results: Race 8, Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint
|1||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:14:41.1457|
|2||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||84||1:14:43.5028|
|3||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:14:44.7458|
|4||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:14:46.7446|
|5||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:14:56.9317|
|6||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:14:57.6554|
|7||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:15:04.6341|
|8||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:15:05.4381|
|9||8||Blackwoods Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||84||1:15:05.9234|
|10||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||84||1:15:20.5276|
|11||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||84||1:15:20.6370|
|12||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||84||1:15:21.1411|
|13||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||84||1:15:21.4305|
|14||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:14:41.4253|
|15||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:14:42.5527|
|16||21||CoolDrive Racing||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:14:46.2258|
|17||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||83||1:14:49.7805|
|18||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:14:52.4740|
|19||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||83||1:15:00.3018|
|20||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||83||1:15:01.9696|
|21||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||83||1:15:02.6925|
|22||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||83||1:15:03.4305|
|23||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:15:06.8893|
|24||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||83||1:15:10.1172|
|25||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||83||1:15:19.7945|
|DNF||56||Tickford Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X|
|5||Shane van Gisbergen||618|
|17||Jack Le Brocq||356|
|19||Anton De Pasquale||314|
|24||Simona de Silvestro||213|